Because boys don’t need to learn confidence and girls aren’t going to college? Yeah, right!
Last week, a grade school in Frisco, Texas sent a newsletter home informing parents about a monthly class the school guidance counselor planned to teach to fourth and fifth-grade students.
What was so concerning about the plan that was presented was the difference in curricula for boys versus girls. The fourth grade boys would be learning about college and career exploration, and the fifth grade boys would learn about “how to survive in the real world,” continuing the discussion on career, salaries and living expenses.
Meanwhile the plan was for the girls to get “girl talk,” discussing how to gain confidence and whether or not they can have too much confidence in fourth grade, while the fifth grade girls would be talking more about friends and how to form lasting relationships.
Naturally, parents became upset over the obvious gender bias. Meghan Youker, Frisco ISD spokeswoman, explained that the newsletter reflected only a portion of the topics to be covered. All students would be taught the same material over the course of the school year. According to WFAA news, the principal, Jodi Davis, emailed parents saying,
Girls and boys in these grades will take part in guidance lessons separately, but both groups will cover the same topics. Lessons may be slightly staggered in the timing of their delivery, but all students will have the same exposure to the same guidance curriculum during the course of the year. College and career exploration will be a topic for both groups this fall.
Understandably, parents aren’t pleased. It’s 2015 — do we need to continue to promote gender-specific roles for our children? Why are the children separated into boy and girl groups for these talks? That only emphasizes the divide between boys and girls. If topics like friends and careers are too taboo to discuss together, how much more taboo is sex education? I think we want our kids to learn how to maturely discuss these topics together.
Should kids be defined by sexist ideas of what is a male or female role? The newsletter sent the message there are clear gender roles for males and females. Boys go to college and have careers. But gaining friends and being likable are the priority for girls.
I am glad the school is exploring these topics with the students. I don’t think fourth grade is too early to think about career and college, regardless of gender. At this age, kids have developed talents and interests. I think they should learn early and dream big.
But teaching kids about friendship is important for both genders, as well. All kids need to know how to navigate friendships, work through conflict, and be empathetic and caring. This school may have messed up with their gender patronization, however, I applaud the school for providing the opportunity to teach life skills to students. And this blunder has become an opportunity for the school, and all of us, to look at ways, either intentionally or unintentionally, we impose sexist ideas on kids. I’m glad the school took steps to correct and provide teaching to both girls and boys. Now the question is, what can we all do to recognize and provide for the needs of all our kids.
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